Huntington’s disease

An ongoing study has been gaining traction due to its discovery of Deutetrabenazine being a possible treatment for Chorea among patients with Huntington’s disease.


Huntington’s disease is a hereditary disease that sees progressive degeneration of the brain cells leading to physical, cognitive and mental dysfunction. People are unfortunately plagued with this but symptoms usually do not manifest until one is between ages 30 and 50. The life expectancy for this cohort is 10-20 years after onset. Interestingly, by nature the disease is inherently not fatal. However, patients of Huntington’s disease die due to complications associated with the disorder.

So here is the good news; a randomized clinical study showed that Deutetrabenazine could treat Chorea in patients with the disease. Chorea is the involuntary erratic movement of different parts of the body such as the shoulders, hips and even the face. Chorea undoubtedly is an obvious indicator of patients of Huntington’s disease. Deutetrabenazine is a chemical compound which can treat chorea, by inhibiting the membrane protein vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMT2). The research paper, ’Effect of Deutetrabenazine on Chorea Among Patients with Huntington Disease’ lucidly delineated the clinical approach taken. However in short, 90 patients of Huntington’s disease were enrolled from August 2013 to August 2014 with a 12 week period for the drug to be administered. A placebo was also involved for juxtaposition purposes. There were two groups; the Deutetrabenazine affiliated one and the placebo group. As a means of assessment, chorea scores were taken and compared. The results were that the total maximal chorea score decreased by 4.4 points from baseline to maintenance treatment compared to 1.9 in the placebo group. From a statistical perspective, this disparity is quite significant. Patients of Huntington’s disease therefore showed improvement in Chorea at the culmination of the 12 week period.

Therefore, the use of Deutetrabenazine could improve Chorea among patients with the disease. This would greatly enhance their quality of life. It is important to note that further research is needed to determine the effect of dosage. Until then, we wait with bated breath…




Written By: Tarique Plummer, BSc Hons Biochemistry & Biotechnology

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